Dear Barkha Dutt,
I feel sufficiently outraged to write this letter to protest your coverage of the floods in Jammu and Kashmir.
To use the Army’s relief efforts in Kashmir as a ploy to whitewash its crimes in the Valley as you did on the nine o’clock news on 9 September 2014 is appalling. Your stance does not bring any credit to the institution you represent; on the contrary it reflects the extent to which the electronic media has become an apologist of State practices it is meant to uncover and oppose.
The evidence for crimes by the Army in Kashmir is everywhere: in mass graves; in the mothers of the disappeared; in the grief and trauma of countless bereaved families; in the special detention and interrogation centres; in unanswered habeas corpus petitions in Kashmir’s courts; in ongoing court battles for justice for rapes by security forces; and in the police stations and prisons of Kashmir. It is also fairly well documented by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch -neither of whom are militant sympathisers. Neither you, nor NDTV, nor indeed your hyper-nationalist heroes in khaki can ever erase this dark, dirty open secret.
Your attempt to use this tragedy to whitewash the truth in Kashmir only indicates your own awareness of it. But having invested in the project of unquestioned valorisation of nation-state and Army you rush to conceal truth by bartering your conscience and professional integrity in the studios of NDTV at night. That you choose to do so at a time of great tragedy and suffering reflects gross insensitivity and disregard for the human condition in Kashmir and profound disrespect for the dignity, sentiments and aspiration of the Kashmiri people.
—Seema Kazi is a researcher and writer based at the Centre for women’s Development Studies (CWDS) and is the author of Between Democracy and Nation: Gender and Militarization in Kashmir